31 December 2012

Cherry, Almond and Brazil Nut Florentines

This is probably a little bit late on the festive recipe front but for me it's never the wrong time of year for anything cake related!

This recipe has been a hit with all my family and friends who have tried it and I must have made about half a dozen batches in the last few weeks.

Ingredients:

75g Golden Syrup
75g Butter
25g Plain Flour
50g Flaked Almonds
25g Brazil Nuts (broken into smallish pieces)
75g Glacé Cherries
1tsp Lemon Juice
125g Plain Chocolate

Method:

1. Heat the oven to 160c and line two baking trays with grease proof paper. If you prefer you can do one tray at a time.

2. Place the butter and golden syrup in a bowl over a pan of hot water and heat until melted. (you can heat in the pan if you prefer but mine aren't the best).


3. Add the cherries, almonds, brazil nuts, flour and lemon to the melted butter and syrup and stir until everything is combined.


4. Place teaspoons of the mixture well apart on the baking sheets and flatten with a fork. Bake for about 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.


5. Transfer to a wire rack to cool, if they have spread into each other you can use a spatula to part them and also make them rounder if needed.



6. Melt the chocolate and spread evenly over the flat underside of each florentine.



7. Leave to set, if you like you can use a fork create a wavy pattern before the chocolate sets completely.


I wrapped these up as gifts and served when visitors came round and they are not just a Christmas thing I love these any time of the year.

Hope you have all had a wonderful Christmas and a Happy New Year.
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30 December 2012

Pinata Box Review

We were sent a Pinata box just before Christmas, it was an instant hit for both myself and my son, with lots of ideas and things to do.

 

This box was full of tissue paper, sequins, paper, cards, cookie cutters and with the tag to open the box down the middle it opened out just like a Pinata.
 

My son got to work straight away making some Christmas cards for his grandparents, although this wasn't on the things to do sheet it got him started on being creative.

I am pretty proud of his first creation, this Robin card is fab and he managed to make it all himself.


He then moved onto making a bauble card and finally what I named a Christmas sprite :)


I really love the Pinata box, delivered direct to your child it gets the creative juices flowing and even if you aren't that creative it gives you ideas of things to do with your child. It includes pretty much everything you need to get creative.

You can subscribe as a one off or as part of a monthly subscription so why not take a look and get creative.

We won our Pinata box but were asked to give our opinions on them, this post is entirely my own view on the box.
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23 December 2012

Christmas Traditions

I remember as a kid having plastic Santa sacks, they would be filled with smaller gifts that me and my brother would haul upstairs to open at the bottom of mum and dads bed.

Then we would go down stairs and open the bigger gifts.

I remember the year we got bikes, they were hidden behind the sofa and curtains.

I also remember the year I got my beloved pound puppy and the year my brother got a thundercats sword.

So finding traditions for my little family is very important, memories that will hopefully live with them when they go on to have their own families.

We currently have a Christmas Eve tradition of new PJs, this also helps with the Christmas morning pictures.

I have been trying to set a tradition of sending a letter to Santa and receiving one too. But we will also carry on the tradition of leaving a mince pie and carrot by the fireplace.

Too much today takes away the innocence of children and for me Christmas is a time to regain it, to spend time doing the family things we seem to have so little time for.

If its nice we might go tobogganing on Christmas Eve too :)

Do you have a Christmas tradition? I would love to hear it.
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21 December 2012

Christmas Cookie Pops

I know, I know I have been rather lax this last few weeks in posting. Christmas preperations are finally catching up with me and I still haven't wrapped a single present!

I have been making some simple treats for guests though and these cookie pops have been a hit.

They are super simple and easy to do and can be whipped up in less than an hour, you can make as many or as few as you like.

For this particular recipe I used a packet of chocolate chip cookies but you could use anything you fancy really. Add the cookies to a mixer and blend until a fine crumb, add in some cream cheese (add in a little at a time) until it becomes a smooth paste.

Take about a teaspoon of the mix and roll into a ball, place on some greaseproof paper on a baking tray and repeat using up all of the mixture.


You then need to melt your chocolate or if you can find in a local baking suppies shop candy melts, I find candy melts better because they can be reheated and you don't have to worry about it burning in the microwave.

Dip your cake pop stick into the chocolate to get about 1cm worth of choc on the end and then place into the top of your cookie mix ball, repeat this with all of the balls and then place into the fridge to cool.


Once they have hardened you can start to cover them in the chocolate, dip in the chocolate and then turn round until fully coated. Gently tap on the side of the bowl until the excess has dropped off add sprinkles if desired, then stand up to dry.

If you have some polystyrene then you can use this to stand them up in, otherwise a cup or glass can be used. And then you are done, the perfect size for children and pretty enough to give as a gift.


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15 December 2012

Dinner at Hawsmoor Air Street

Last weekend me and the hubby went to London for the weekend, after several hours of trying to choose somewhere for dinner we settled on Hawksmoor after reading Jay Raynors review about it cooking the best steak in the country.

We chose the express menu which is £25 for 3 courses, between 5-6pm. We went with this so we could go out afterwards and look around the still open shops and visit the Hyde Park Winter Wonderland.

We started with a couple of cocktails or anti-fogmatics as they are called, we chose the Marmalade Cocktail (Gin, Campari, Lemon Juice, Orange Bitters & English Marmalade) and  Shaky Pete’s Ginger Brew (Gin, homemade Ginger Syrup & Lemon Juice, topped with London Pride) they definitely woke us up and did exactly what they set out to do.

For starters we both chose the Potted Beef & Bacon with Yorkshires, not wanting to look like a blogger I decided against taking pictures so you will have to take my word for it when I say what arrived was truly a work of art.

Two huge Yorkshire puddings, a Kilner jar full of the most tastiest potted beef I have ever tasted and a small gravy boat with super soft and yummy onions, it all tasted amazing but the fun was in ripping apart the Yorkshires and spreading them with the potted meat and onions!

We both chose the Rib Eye for main, the sauces sounded fab so I chose the Stilton Hollandaise and hubby had the Anchovy Hollandaise, for sides we chose Triple Cooked Chips and Roasted Field Mushrooms to share.

The steak was perfectly cooked (hubby has his blue and very rarely does it come that way) and without a doubt it was the best steak I have ever had when dining out. The triple cooked chips were perfection as were the mushrooms, the sauce was creamy and a great accompaniment to the steak.

We chose the Borsao wine to go with dinner, even though it was the cheapest it was still very drinkable.

My husband and I had been talking to the fantastic waiter Thomas about how we were away from the kids for the night so were having cocktails etc and whilst talking about the pudding got onto the subject of salt and caramel going together so well.

We were then very kindly sent some Salted Caramel Rolo’s from the kitchen as an ‘away from the kids for the night gift’, I have a very sweet tooth and these were without a doubt one of the most amazing things I have ever tasted. If I could have taken a dozen home I would have!

Finally the pudding, by this point I was full so opted for the Plum Ripple Sundae, it was just what I needed. Although after tasting my husband’s pudding of Peanut Butter Shortbread with Salted Caramel Ice cream I was a little jealous as it was divine.

After dinner we both opted for an Espresso Martini as an alternative to a coffee, it was the perfect way to end what was truly a fantastic meal.

So if you are in London and looking for somewhere to go I can highly recommend it, the service was excellent, friendly but not intrusive and the food really was the best I have had, add to that the gorgeous setting in there Air Street restaurant made for a truly wonderful evening.
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10 December 2012

Supporting Small Businesses this Christmas - Knot Just Jigs

I have bought many things from Knot Just Jigs, not just because Toniann who owns it is lovely but because the toys are fabulous.

As I have said before there is nothing sadder than hearing a toy where the batteries are going. With wooden and fabric there is none of that, all you need is some good old fashioned imagination.

We have just bought this gorgeous Alfie the Elf from her as a little Christmas friend for my son.


We bought all of our daughters party bag gifts from her too, which went down a treat including these fab wooden castanets.


And if you want personalised she can do that too, from bags to bunting, dolls to owls. Toniann has made a taggy for my daughter and a book bag for a friends little girl. They were both gorgeous and unique and just that little bit different.


If you are local to Nottingham you might be able to catch her at a local craft fair, but you can order online at www.knowjustjigs.co.uk too.
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